Brittany Robinson’s running jumper at the buzzer stunned everyone in Bross Gym Saturday evening and lifted San Diego Christian past The Master’s College 62-61.
The win enabled the visiting Hawks to sweep the season series between the two clubs and sent the Mustangs (9-13 overall, 2-8 GSAC) skidding to their sixth loss in the past seven decisions. It also kept the Mustangs buried in ninth place in the conference.
Robinson’s game-winner was set up by a missed Lindsey Levanen free throw and an extra eight-tenths of a second added to the game clock following a Hawk timeout. Not only that but it rescued the Hawks after they blew a 16-point, first-half lead.
That advantage (31-15), coming with 2:52 remaining in the first half, was built on a solid shooting performance (47%) and a defense that forced 13 Mustang turnovers.
It started early. After falling behind 4-2, the Hawks ripped off 16 consecutive points, highlighted by Robinson’s back-to-back three-balls and two layups by Juanita Lewis that capped the burst with 12:51 remaining in the first half.
Failing to score for over six minutes, the Mustangs found themselves in an 18-4 hole. It didn’t get much better the rest of the half, although the club did close to 11 points twice (21-10, 25-14) before the Hawks settled for a 33-20 lead at the break.
Shooting only 29% over the opening 20 minutes, the Mustangs were led by Levanen’s six points. Meanwhile, Brittany Daniel paced the Hawks with 10 points.
It was a completely different Mustang squad that hit the Bross Gym hardwood in the opening minutes of the second half. Sparked by a Lena Rivera jumper and a ballhawking defense, the Mustangs outscored the Hawks 13-1 in the first 6:42 of play, slicing the deficit to 34-33. Over that span, the Mustangs forced four turnovers while the Hawks missed their first six shots. Zoe Scott, who scored six points during the skein, capped it off with a layup.
But, the Mustangs weren’t done. After Robinson sank a jumper to put her team back up by three points, Ella Joines drained a trifecta of her own with 12:30 left to knot the score for the first time since the opening minute of play. Robinson and Joines also traded three-balls on their clubs’ next two possessions, pushing the score to 39-all at the 11:40 mark.
A Daniel jumper less than a minute later put the Hawks back in front but Morgan Schwegler answered that with not only a game-tying basket but one that triggered a 7-0 spurt, sending the Mustangs to their largest lead of the night, 46-41 with 8:57 left to play. Schwegler added another bucket along the way and Rivera finished things off with a three-point play.
The Mustangs would enjoy two more five-point margins over the next 90 seconds before the Hawks, behind six points from Daniel, tore off a 7-0 run of their own to race by the Mustangs 52-50 with under five minutes left to play.
Rivera promptly tied the game with a layup on the Mustangs’ next possession, setting up a back-and-forth pattern the rest of the way. In the game’s final three-and-a-half minutes, there would be four ties and six lead changes. Of course, the final one doomed the Mustangs.
However, before that happened, the Mustangs made every effort to make their second-half rally complete. Whitney Best hit a pair of free throws with 58 seconds left to give the Mustangs a 60-59 lead and Levanen nailed one of two with six ticks left on the clock for a 61-60 advantage before Robinson came through with her last-second heroics.
Rivera, Scott, and Schwegler had huge second halves for the Mustangs, combining for 28 points as the club shot 48% from the field over the final 20 minutes. Rivera led the club with 17 points, Scott had 14 more, and Schwegler powered her way to 10 points. Levanen impressed with nine points and a game-high eight rebounds.
With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Mustangs are just a game out of eighth place, a spot they need to reach if they are to qualify for the GSAC Tournament that starts at the end of February. The quest for that goal continues on Tuesday evening when the Mustangs travel to Fresno Pacific to take on a Sunbird squad they beat in double overtime on January 3.